Pac-Man is one of the most recognizable video game characters in history. The yellow monster with the huge mouth has been around for over 30 years and remains a popular figure even today. Upcoming on November 10, 2018: The PacMan 30th anniversary event that includes a partnership with Google Maps to have special locations give out virtual rewards and also a new game called Pac-Man Google Maps Challenge with playable characters from the original game as playable avatars. For this article, we’ll take you back in time to learn more about the history of Pac-Man, his creator and those behind the scenes who have kept this cultural icon relevant for almost three decades now.
The Creator of Pac-Man
As with most things, the story begins with a man. The man in this case is Toru Iwatani, a Japanese video game designer and the creator of Pac-Man. Iwatani wanted something that would be simple and understandable by everyone, so he created the maze with a monster in it that people could relate to: a yellow, mouthy thing. It’s been said that the inspiration for Pac-Man came from the idea of a person (in this case, a yellow person), running around a maze in pursuit of something they cannot attain. There has also been speculation that Iwatani’s inspiration came from other sources- ghosts, a pizza missing a slice, or even the image of a pizza missing a slice as seen from above.
Pac-Man’s Gameplay and History
Pac-Man is a classic game that has been around since 1980. It is an arcade game that features the yellow Pac-Man (also known as Pac-Person) trying to collect pellets while avoiding Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (blue), and Clyde (orange). Pac-Man starts the game in a maze that has four corridors filled with blue pellets. At the top of the screen is the ghost counter that has four spaces for Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. The aim of the game is to collect all the pellets in the maze while avoiding the ghosts. If a Pac-Man comes into contact with a ghost, he loses a life. When all four spaces on the ghost counter are full, the game ends.
The Rise of Pac-Man in the 80s
The 80s were a golden age for Pac-Man. It became one of the biggest games in history, both financially and culturally. It helped to pave the way for the modern gaming industry as we know it today. During the 80s, Pac-Man was present at almost every arcade. You could find the game in shopping malls, pizza parlors, laundromats, and even truck stops. The game also became a popular pastime for many college students, who would play it late into the night on large machines that could accommodate several people at once. The main factor behind Pac-Man’s success was the fact that it was a very easy game to learn. Anyone could play it, no matter how old they were or how much experience they had with video games.
90s to 2000: A Darker Turn for Pac-Man
As the decades rolled on, Pac-Man continued to evolve with the times. In the early 90s, Pac-Man got a makeover, with a new look and sound. At this time, though, Pac-Man’s popularity was waning. With the advent of more sophisticated arcade games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man was starting to look dated. As the 90s progressed and the turn of the century approached, technology advanced at an exponential rate, and Pac-Man found himself in the middle of a revolution that he could not fully be a part of. Because Pac-Man was such a simple game, it was not possible to adapt it to new technology like CD-ROMs, the Internet, and console gaming.
2010 to Present Day: PacMan 30th Anniversary Celebration and Beyond
But all of that changed in 2010 when Pac-Man was announced as the guest character for the 30th installment of the Super Smash Bros. series. Nintendo’s decision to include the character was controversial at the time, with many questioning the choice. But it turned out to be a great decision that helped re-invigorate Pac-Man’s popularity and make him more relevant than he had been in decades. With the inclusion in Super Smash Bros. and the release of a new Pac-Man game (Pac-Man Battle Royale), Pac-Man’s popularity grew significantly- so much so that he was featured in Google Maps a few years later.
Pac-Man has been around for a long time now, and it’s amazing to think about just how much the gaming industry has changed since the 80s. The first Pac-Man game was released in 1980, so we’re coming up to the PacMan 30th anniversary. With many companies celebrating this occasion by bringing Pac-Man inspired products to the market and hosting special events, it’s clear that Pac-Man is still just as popular as he ever was. The gaming industry is constantly changing, and it’s great to see that one of gaming’s most iconic and recognizable characters is still around after all these years.